Coming to Athens, Ohio from Venezuela can be a major culture shock, but for Alejandro Orta, one thing stays the same everywhere – the 88 keys of a piano.
Orta, from Caracas, Venezuela, is a piano prodigy who started playing the piano at the age of seven when his mother bought him a keyboard and taught him songs as a child. Since then, music and the piano have taken a big place in his life, a universal language that he wanted to share with the world.
âFrom a young age, I felt a strong attraction and a strong interest in music,â said Orta. âWhen my mother bought me a keyboard with which she taught me songs when I was a child, my curiosity grew. Then I started my musical studies in a conservatory where I finally discovered my passion.
While studying piano in Caracas, Orta met Laura Silva, a fellow pianist who would play a vital role in helping him achieve his goals.
âThe piano world in Caracas is big and small, so when Alejandro started studying with my first teacher, Elizabeth Guerrero, I discovered his talent and was impressed that he played like the recordings to such a youngster. age, âsaid Silva, who is currently working toward her doctorate. in Interdisciplinary Arts at the College of Fine Arts, OHIO. âWe got to know each other better when he came to the Escuela de Musica Mozarteum Caracas to study with Carlos Urbaneja, the piano teacher with whom I graduated in Caracas and who I then helped in his studio for many years. While I was working there he joined my piano ensemble class. I had it in the project, so we worked together and played concerts together. He was a very dedicated piano student, still passionate about repertoire and pianists.
This friendship is how Orta discovered the opportunities to study piano at OHIO. Staying in touch with Silva as she pursued her Masters in Athens, they would discuss the high academic standard of the faculty, the excellent programs on offer, as well as the care and support offered to international students. The support and opportunities that Silva experienced and shared with Orta made him want to continue his studies at OHIO.
He spoke further with Silva about the possibilities of studying at OHIO and sent recordings to piano teacher and Director of the School of Music, Dr Christopher Fisher, whose positive feedback encouraged him to apply to the ‘university.
“It made me very happy that this great professor took an interest in my recordings and supported me to achieve my goals and complete the University application process, which I did with great effort and enthusiasm, âOrta added. âFrom that moment on, I received great support from two angels who have passed through my life. After the application process was completed, I was admitted to the university.
Fisher had already worked with Silva for years and served as a mentor – he was even the reason Silva was studying at OHIO in the first place. After reading one of Fisher’s books on the piano and using it in her first master’s thesis, she wanted to study directly with him. She had this opportunity in the fall of 2017 and completed her Masters in Piano Performance and Pedagogy before starting work on her PhD.
âIt is absolutely wonderful for Ohio University to experience this generational line of exceptional piano students from this country who have produced so many amazing pianists and musicians,â said Fisher.
Having the opportunity to study at OHIO has been a long and arduous process for Orta, however, with several people helping him along the way. From the moment he first heard about OHIO until now, several years have passed in determining and following the proper procedures to bring him to the Athens campus.
First, to apply to OHIO, Orta had to take an English test to make sure he would be able to study at an English-speaking university. After practicing this new language for him and passing the English test, Orta applied, was accepted and began the process of approving documents and his visa, as well as organizing the trip to Athens. This meant having to deal with many challenges due to the current crisis in Venezuela, such as having to go through several other countries to both get his visa approved and to make the trip himself, while also managing the challenges of a global pandemic. To accomplish many of these tasks, Orta continued his fundraising efforts to help cover costs and was supported by many people on campus who helped him identify scholarships and financial aid for his studies. .
âI am delighted that Alejandro is finally part of our exceptional community of student musicians here at the Ohio University School of Music,â said Fisher. âHis musicality and international perspective will surely enrich our dynamic learning environment here, and I know he will also benefit from being surrounded by like-minded student colleagues within the School of Music who are also determined to be artistic agents of beauty and catalysts for the positive. change in the world.
Since arriving in the United States, Silva has helped Orta get used to American culture and navigate Athens, shopping together and explaining everything that matters to him.
âVenezuela does not offer the quality of life of a young pianist that is really necessary to help him succeed,â added Silva. “So I am happy that he is working here with Dr Fisher and other amazing teachers where he can live his life and have the opportunity to perfect his playing and be the amazing and dedicated pianist that he is.”
Through her studies at OHIO, Orta hopes to acquire knowledge that will allow her to grow both professionally and personally while learning and interacting with people and teachers from different cultures.
“I am very fortunate to receive lessons from excellent teachers, as well as to be admitted to study in the Honors Tutorial College specialized program, which allows me to develop technical and musical skills on the piano and to broaden my knowledge. musical pieces that will greatly contribute to the achievement of my goals, âsaid Orta.
During her first few weeks on campus, Orta said she felt a lot of curiosity and adapted easily thanks to the support and help that professors and members of different departments gave her.
âAs is the case with all of my students, my goal is to work alongside Alejandro to improve and elevate his existing skills and musicianship while building and expanding his repertoire,â Fisher added. âI also seek to identify opportunities for Alejandro and all of my students to share the transformative power of our art with a wider audience. Part of that will be participation in competitions and other festivals.
Fisher said Orta is a winner of many piano competitions and has already performed with most of the great orchestras of his native Venezuela. As the winner of the first Ohio University High School Concerto Competition, he will perform Franz Liszt’s Virtuoso Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major with the Ohio University Symphony Orchestra during the spring concert season. 2022.
âI am very happy and honored to be able to express my gratitude for being here,â said Orta. âI first thank God and Our Lady for having put Dr. Fisher in my path, who has always trusted me unconditionally, and Laura, who has supported and guided me in a special way since the beginning of this process. I also thank Dean Dr. (Donal) Skinner for his great support and interest, as well as Breanne Sisler, Andrea Tinajero and all members of the University for responding and clarifying all of my concerns. I especially thank my teacher Carlos Urbaneja and Elizabeth Marichal, director of the Escuela de MÃºsica Mozarteum Caracas, for being there with me during these years.
“Agradezco put padres por el apoyo y la fe que tuvieron en mi desde el momento que concebÃ la mÃºsica como parte de mi vida. Mi padre con sus conocimientos musicales me ayudÃ³ a reforzar en casa las clases del conservatorio. Ellos estuvieron presents in todo momento en mi musical formation, orientÃ¡ndome a tomar las mejores decisiones con amor y dedicaciÃ³n para mi crecimiento espiritual e intelectual. ” -Alejandro Orta
âI thank my parents for the support and confidence they have had in me since I conceived music as part of my life,â Orta added. âMy father with his musical knowledge helped me strengthen the conservatory classes at home. They have been present at all times in my musical education, guiding me to make the best decisions with love and dedication for my spiritual and intellectual growth.